Spring Strawberry Lemon Shortbread Tart

Spring has sprung and that means strawberries are in season. How do I know this? I let the over-enthusiastic foodie shoppers at Whole Foods tell me. For example, walking into Whole Paycheck this weekend in my waspy neighborhood, I was elbowed 3 times, stepped on twice and scratched once, all while walking by the strawberries. Ding ding ding! Strawberries must be in season!

And even though it took 3 yelps, 2 dirty looks and 1 band-aid, I did manage to get enough strawberries to make my strawberry lemon tart for my boyfriend’s mother’s birthday-the same woman who tells me “Meris, no cakes! Only tarts and fruit. Cakes make you fat, you know.” Did I mention this tart has a super buttery shortbread crust with heavy cream in it?

I’m evil, I know 😉

All heart clogging aside, this pastry from Bon Appétit Desserts has the perfect balance of tart (pardon the pun) and sweet, thanks to the very light-and not too eggy-lemon curd, and extra ripe strawberries covered in a jam and liqueur glaze.

Anyone wanting to celebrate spring, and participate in the annual fight-for-your-life berry rush, will love this tart.

[Adapted from Bon Appétit Desserts]

Equipment:

Ingredients:

Curd:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbl. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2-5 Tbl. chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large egg yolk

Topping:

  • Roughly 1 1/2 qts. strawberries, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup strawberry liqueur or water

*Note: The recipe is easy but it takes times. Start hours ahead of when you need it. If you need it in the evening, start early in the morning. If you need it in the morning, make the night before. The curd and the dough can both be made 2 days ahead.

Curd: Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan to blend. Add butter and lemon peel. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and curd thickens to a pudding consistency, about 6 min. Transfer to a small bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd. Chill at least 2 hours.

Crust: Blend flour, sugar and salt. Add butter with a pastry cutter, or pulse in a food processor, until mix resembles coarse meal. Add 2 Tbl. cream and the egg yolk. Blend with hands (I use disposable gloves for this so the heat from my hands doesn’t make the dough too hot) until moist clumps form, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if dough is too dry. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap and chill 1 hour.

Let dough sit at room temp. for a few min., then roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer to the tart pan and press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch; fold in and press firmly, forming double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork and refrigerate 1 hour.

Make border higher than the pan b/c it will shrink during cooking!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake crust until golden, pressing with the back of a fork if the crust bubbles, about 20 min. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Topping: Spread the curd in the crust. Arrange sliced strawberries on top of the curd, overlapping and layering to your preference. Stir jam and liqueur in a small saucepan over med-low heat until melted and not clumpy. Brush jam over berries.

Chill tart until glaze sets, at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

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